Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Billington, Thomas

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BILLINGTON, THOMAS (d. 1832), a native of Exeter, was a well-known harpsichord and singing master towards the close of the eighteenth century. On 6 April 1777 he was elected a member of the Royal Society of Musicians. His brother James (the husband of Mrs. Billington [q. v.]) was elected a member of the same society on 6 Jan. 1782. A third brother, Horace, was an artist, and died at Glasshouse Street on 17 Nov. 1812. Billington was an industrious composer and compiler. His most remarkable productions are his settings of poems like Gray's ‘Elegy,’ Pope's ‘Eloisa,’ and parts of Young's ‘Night Thoughts’ to heterogeneous collections of his own and other composers' music. In one of these curious compilations he arranged Handel's Dead March in ‘Saul’ as a four-part glee, while Jomelli's ‘Chaconne’ figures as a song. Besides these works, Billington published several sets of instrumental trios, quartetts, and sonatas; and canzonets and ballads for one and more voices. During the greater part of his life he lived at 24 Charlotte Street, but towards 1825 he removed to Sunbury, Middlesex. He died at Tunis in 1832.

[Brit. Mus. Cat.; Records of Royal Society of Musicians; Gent. Mag. lxxxii. pt. ii. 501, cii. 382.]

W. B. S.